MONDAY, June 27, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic high blood pressure beginning in middle age robs individuals of an average five years of life, new Dutch research finds.
The study, conducted by a team at Erasmus M.C. University Medical Center in Rotterdam, looked at data on more than 3,100 50-year-old American participants tracked for more than 27 years as part of the ongoing Framingham Heart Study.
Middle-aged men with normal blood pressure staved off the advent of cardiovascular disease by 7.2 years compared to men with high blood pressure, the researchers found. Those men also spent 2.1 fewer years of their total lifespan free from heart disease. Results were similar for women.
Total life expectancy for people with normal blood pressure at age 50 was 5.1 years longer for men and 4.9 years longer for women, compared to those with high blood pressure in middle age.
The study appears in the June 27 issue of Hypertension.
The association between high blood pressure and shorter life expectancy identified in this study is even stronger than previously believed, said study author Dr. Oscar Franco.
"This emphasizes the need to improve blood pressure control," Franco said in a prepared statement. "Lifestyle modification is important to control blood pressure." People need to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise and control their weight, he said, adding that doctors also need to educate their patients about how to prevent high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association has more about high blood pressure.